Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS5859901 A
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 08/812,867
Publication dateJan 12, 1999
Filing dateMar 6, 1997
Priority dateMar 6, 1997
Fee statusPaid
Also published asWO1998039935A1
Publication number08812867, 812867, US 5859901 A, US 5859901A, US-A-5859901, US5859901 A, US5859901A
InventorsHenry Tzvi Brendzel, Roy Philip Weber
Original AssigneeAt&T Corp.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Intelligent call connection service
US 5859901 A
Abstract
The number of times that a subscriber is forced to add an area code to his or her dialing sequence is substantially reduced by allowing calling parties to dial without including the area code, by analyzing the called party number relative to the calling party, and by resolving ambiguities in the called number based on that analysis. The analysis includes, but is not limited to, taking account of the calling pattern of the calling subscriber, and taking account of the distance between the calling and the called parties.
Images(2)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(19)
We claim:
1. A method for connecting a calling party to a called party via a telecommunication network, comprising the steps of:
receiving a sequence of digits;
determining whether the sequence of digits contains area code digits;
only when the sequence of digits does not include area code digits, analyzing the received digits relative to the calling party to form therefrom a telephone number specification, wherein said analyzing identifies uncertainty stemming from the analysis of the received digits relative to the calling party and resolves said uncertainty, when it occurs, by appending an area code, or refraining from appending an area code; and
initiating a process, responsive to said step of analyzing, for connecting the calling party to the called party based on said telephone number specification.
2. The method of claim 1 further comprising a step of generating billing information.
3. The method of claim 1 wherein said analysis determines a telephone number specification that has the highest likelihood of being a telephone number that corresponds to the called party.
4. The method of claim 3 wherein said telephone number specification is derived by considering a database that associates the calling party with a plurality of potential different called parties.
5. The method of claim 4 wherein said database comprises information about previous calls made by the calling party.
6. The method of claim 4 wherein said database comprises information inserted on behalf of the calling party.
7. The method of claim 4 wherein said database comprises information regarding parties called often by the calling party and parties called recently by the calling party.
8. The method of claim 7 further comprising a step of generating billing information that is sensitive to whether the called party is found among the information regarding parties called often by the calling party or among information regarding parties called recently by the calling party.
9. The method of claim 3 wherein said telephone specification is derived by considering a geographical distance between the calling party and parties that are assigned said sequence of digits, but belong to different area codes.
10. The method of claim 3 wherein said telephone number specification is derived by considering a database that associates the calling party with potential different parties, and a geographical distance between the calling party and parties that are assigned said sequence of digits, but belong to different area codes.
11. The method of claim 10 where the database is located in a switch controlled by a service provider to which the calling party is connected.
12. The method of claim 10 where the database is located in a central network database.
13. The method of claim 10 where the database is located in a PBX.
14. The method of claim 1 further including a step of announcing to the calling party said telephone number specification that will be employed in establishing a connection of the calling party to the party with whom the connection will be established.
15. The method of claim 1 further comprising a step of announcing the name of the party with whom a connection with the calling party will be established.
16. The method of claims 14 or 15 wherein the step of announcing includes an invitation to the calling party to direct that a connection not be established to the telephone number specification identified by the step of analyzing.
17. The method of claim 1 wherein the received sequence of digits includes the starting digits of a number that is normally required in the telecommunication network for requesting connection to a called party within the calling party's area code, but less than all of the digits that are normally so required.
18. The method of claim 17 wherein said step of analyzing is responsive to sequences of digits of varying lengths.
19. The method of claim 1 further including a step of announcing to the calling party the telephone number specification that will be employed in establishing a connecting for the calling party when the step of analyzing evaluates a confidence measure and determines that the confidence measure is below a preselected threshold, and establishes said connection without performing said step of announcing when the confidence measure is not below the preselected threshold.
Description
TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to telecommunication switching, and more particularly to an intelligent call connection service.

BACKGROUND

The telecommunication numbering plan in the US divides the country into area codes and includes within each area code a plurality of central office exchanges. The exchanges cover geographical subareas of the area codes, and each exchange serves a number of subscribers. The maximum number of subscribers that an exchange can serve is limited by the number of digits that define a subscriber within an exchange which, in the US is 10,000. When the subareas covered by exchanges are built up to approach 10,000 subscribers, additional exchanges must be added, and they are typically added without regard to whether the geographical subarea of one exchange overlaps in whole or in part the geographical subarea of another exchange. What is diligently maintained, however, is that an exchange should not straddle more than one area code. This restriction is imposed so that telephone companies can include identically identified exchanges in adjacent area codes without creating ambiguities. Actually, the ambiguity is avoided by requiring customers to dial an area code prior to dialing the exchange when customers wish to reach parties outside their area codes. Since, at least traditionally, customers called within their area code much more than outside their area code ("long distance"), avoiding the requirement to specify the area code was an appreciated feature.

The burgeoning number of cellular telephones and the increase in the number of homes with a multiple number of telephone lines (for fax service, telecommuting, etc.) is causing the local telephone companies to reduce the geographical size of area codes and to increase their number. Consequently, people are increasingly forced to include the area code in their dialing digit sequence even when dialing a number that is geographically very close. While this is not a new problem; it is being exacerbated with the increase in the number of area codes.

An arrangement that eliminates, or reduces, the number of times that subscribers need to include the area code when dialing would be very beneficial.

SUMMARY

In accordance with the principles disclosed herein, the number of times that a subscriber is forced to add an area code to his or her dialing sequence is substantially reduced by allowing calling parties to dial without including the area code, by analyzing the called party number relative to the calling party, and by resolving ambiguities in the called number based on that analysis. This analysis includes, but is not limited to, taking account of the calling pattern of the calling subscriber, and taking account of the distance between the calling and the called parties.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 shows a map approximating the area codes for northern New Jersey;

FIG. 2 presents a flow chart of a process that analyzes dialed digits sequences; and

FIG. 3 is a flowchart of an illustrative process that can be employed to effect block 16 of FIG. 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As indicated above, the current dialing arrangement in the US allows subscribers to dial a number without specifying the area code. When so dialed, the telecommunication switch that receives the dialed digits assumes that the dialed number is within the area code, and connects the call accordingly. If the dialed exchange does not exist in the local area code, an error message is delivered to the calling subscriber.

In accordance with the principles disclosed herein, the modus operandi is changed so that when a customer dials a number without specifying an area code, the number is analyzed vis-a-vis the subscriber, and the connection process responds to the analysis.

When database resources are available, the analysis first looks at the calling history of the calling party. Thereafter, and perhaps regardless of whether database resources are available, the analysis evaluates the physical distance between the calling subscriber and parties that have a number which corresponds to the dialed number.

For example, FIG. 1 presents a roughly drawn map of the area codes for Northern New Jersey, as they were proposed late in 1996. According to FIG. 1, a subscriber A in Essex County may call parties to its north, such as party B in Sussex County (which may be more than an hour's drive away), without having to include an area code. However, to call party C which is two blocks away in Union County, subscriber A is required to include the area code in the dialing sequence. While, strictly speaking, the telephone company is correct in considering the potential ambiguity between party C and a possible party D which has the same 7 digits as party C and is in the area code of subscriber A, in reality the probability of confusion is very small. First, even without any information at all about the identity of subscriber A and parties C and D, the probability that subscriber A wishes to be connected to party C and not to party D is quite high if party C is geographically much closer to subscriber A than party D is. Secondly, information is available about party C relative to subscriber A if subscriber A has called party C in the past, and that substantially raises the likelihood that party C is again being called. For example, party C may be the family doctor of subscriber A and therefore even a cursory look at the calling pattern of subscriber A will quickly reveal that, in most likelihood, when subscriber A dials the 7 digits that correspond to parties C and D, the intended called party is party C (in a foreign area code) and not party D (in the local area code).

Thus, in accordance with the principles disclosed herein, both calling patterns and distances can be used to release subscribers from the obligation to include an area code in their dialing sequence.

For purposes of the calling patter analysis, the telephone central office maintains a small database (i.e, a table) for subscriber A. (This database can also be in a central Network Control Processor (NCP), or in a PBX--if subscriber A is behind a PBX.) Each entry in the table illustratively has the format ##STR1## and the table entries are segregated into portions A, B, and C. Portion A includes parties specified by subscriber A, portion B includes parties where the associated weight is the controlling element (as described in more detail below), and portion C includes parties where the date field is important (also described below). Thus, the database for subscriber A may include, for example, 10 numbers specified by subscriber A, 20 other different numbers that were dialed more often than all other numbers, and a maximum of 20 other numbers that were dialed in the last three days.

FIG. 2 presents a flow chart of the processes carried out in the telephone central office in connection with the principles disclosed herein. The digits dialed by subscriber A are received in block 10, flag 1 is set to 0 in block 20, and control passes to block 11 where the digits sequence is analyzed. When the digits sequence includes an area code designation, control passes to block 16. Otherwise, control passes to block 12. Block 12 searches through the database of numbers called by subscriber A. When the digits sequence is found in the database, control passes to block 13; otherwise, control passes to block 15 which performs a distance analysis. When control passes to block 15, indicating that the digits sequence was not found in the database, flag 1 is set to 1 in block 21. When control passes to block 13, block 22 sets flag 1 to 2, 3, or 4, depending on whether the digits sequence is found in portion A, B, or C of the database, respectively.

The results of the distance analysis in block 15 (the analysis algorithm is described in detail below) is a telephone number (including an area code) which is applied to block 16. In block 13, the number found in the database is retrieved, with the area code included, and control passes to block 14. Block 14 directs the process flow based on the value of the flag 1. When flag 1=2 (i.e., the number is in portion A), control passes to block 17 where the number presented is dialed. Otherwise, control passes to block 16.

Block 16 performs the update on the database. Many different algorithms can be applied to the update process. FIG. 3 is merely illustrative of one acceptable algorithm.

At the outset, it is understood that block 16 is accessed under four different circumstances: a) when the applied number includes an area code and there is no knowledge of whether the number is found in the database (from block 11); b) when it is known that the applied number is not found in the database, but it does include an area code (from block 15); c) when the number is found in portion B of the database (from block 14); and d) when the number is found in portion C of the database (from block 14).

In FIG. 3, block 30 respond to the value of flag 1. When flag 1=0, indicating that block 16 was accessed from block 11, it is known that subscriber A included an area code in the dialed telephone number. Since it is not known whether the dialed number is not also found in the database, block 31 searches the database, and block 32 sets flag 1 based on the results of the search (in the same manner as blocks 20, 21, and 22 set flag 1). Control then returns to block 30. When flag 1=2, indicating that subscriber A dialed a number that is found in portion A of the database, the process ends. When flag 1=1, 3, or 4, control passes to block 33 which decrements the weights in the database entries, and passes control to block 34. The weights are decremented, for example, by multiplying each entry in portions B and C of the database by a factor less than 1 (weights in portion A are not used and, therefore, ignored by block 33).

Block 34 looks at flag 1 and passes control to blocks 35, 36, or 37, depending on whether flag 1=3,4, or 1, respectively. When control passes to block 35, portion B of the database is updated by incrementing the weight of the dialed number. When control passes to block 36, the weight of the dialed number, which is found in portion C is incremented by 1 and then compared to all the weights in portion B. If the weight of the incremented number exceeds the weight of some number in portion B, the incremented number is removed from portion C and placed in portion B in place of the number with the lower weight. This constitutes an update of portions C and B. When control passes to block 37, it is known that the dialed number is new to the database and needs to be inserted in portion C. Accordingly, block 37 ascertains whether there is room in portion C. If there is room, control passes to block 39. Otherwise, block 38 discards the oldest entry and also passes control to block 39. Lastly, block 39 inserts the dialed number into portion C of the database.

The distance analysis operation of block 15 is quite simple. The central office has access to a database of exchanges which specify all relevant exchanges and their location, say in terms of latitude and longitude coordinates of a map. Given the exchange of subscriber A and the exchange dialed by subscriber A, the entry of subscriber A in the exchange-location database as well as all entries that correspond to the dialed exchange are retrieved, and a distance measure is computed. The equation (XA -X1)2 +(YA -Y1)2 is a reasonable measure for making comparisons, where XA and YA are the coordinates of subscriber A's exchange, and x1 and y1 are the coordinates of one of the exchanges found in the exchange-location database that is equal to the dialed exchange.

The distance analysis is helped, of course, by the telephone companies consciously assigning exchanges in area codes so that identical exchanges are geographically far apart from each other; but that is not a difficult problem (e.g., cellular telephony has a similar problem in the assignment of frequencies), and under any circumstance the benefits attained from employing the principles disclosed herein are always realizable.

Once block 12 searches for a match between the number received by block 10 and the numbers residing in the database, there is really no specific limitation that the comparison needs to be one between the 7 digits of the dialed sequence and the last 7 digits of the numbers stored in the database. For example, in present when the central office receives less than 7 digits within a prescribed time period, the connection attempt is abandoned and an error signal is generated. In accordance with the instant disclosure, use of less than 7 digits can be employed to provide an abbreviated dialing feature.

This can be implemented most easily by specifying two "time-out" periods (t1 and t2, where t2 >t1, by restricting the abbreviated dialing feature to portion A numbers and by, perhaps, adding another field to the database for searching sequences that are less than 7 digits long. In such a setup, after receipt of each digit that is followed by a silent period of more than t1, a search of the abbreviated dialing field is made. If a match if found, the number corresponding to the abbreviated number if retrieved, and the process continues. Otherwise, the wait continues. If a match is not found and another digit followed by an appropriate silent period is received, then the process repeats. If a match is not found and no other digit appears before t2 expires, the dialing attempt is abandoned.

It may be noted that the abbreviated dialing feature can be simplified further by requiring subscribers to use some specific number of digits (e.g., 4) to trigger the feature.

Another enhancement to the search process of block 12 is the "near match" search. Although somewhat more complex than a "perfect match" search, "near match" search algorithms are well known in the art. By way of example, it is noted that most current word processing software includes a spell checker that suggests correct spelling. A variant of such an algorithm will do just fine for the "near match" version of block 12.

It must be recognized that a measure of ambiguity remains and, in a sense, increases when one permits subscribers to mostly avoid using the area code. To avoid being connected to the wrong party, the database kept by the central office can be increased to include the name of the party that corresponds to the telephone number of each entry. With such information stored, it is quite simple to provide subscriber A with an opportunity to confirm his or her selection. That is, after dialing a number without an area code, if that number is stored in the database, block 17 outputs to subscriber A the announcement "John Williams is being called. If that is not the party you wish to reach, press 1". Thereafter, perhaps after a preselected delay, subscriber A would get a ring-back signal, and connection is attempted to the number specified by the above-described process, unless subscriber A pressed 1. In such an event, it is assumed that subscriber A did, indeed, wish to be connected to the dialed number within the local area code. One might even offer subscriber A the option to not be given the announcement when the weight factor is above a certain level. To effect this feature, the weight factor needs to be retrieved in block 13 and forwarded to block 17.

It probably is appreciated by the reader that various enhancements are easily incorporated. For example, subscribers can be given an opportunity to specify what is in the name field of the database (e.g., so that the announcement may state "calling your father", rather than "John Williams is being called"). Also, billing can be affected. That is, subscriber A may be paying a premium for this service, may be allowed a discount for dialing often-used numbers, etc.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4600812 *Nov 23, 1984Jul 15, 1986At&T Information Systems Inc.Communication system having abbreviated dialing access
US4757267 *Jun 17, 1987Jul 12, 1988Applied Telematics, Inc.Telephone system for connecting a customer to a supplier of goods
US5157719 *Mar 12, 1990Oct 20, 1992Advanced Cellular Telcom Corp.Automatic area code dialing apparatus and methods particularly adapted for cellular or other types of telephone systems
US5533107 *Mar 1, 1994Jul 2, 1996Bellsouth CorporationMethod for routing calls based on predetermined assignments of callers geographic locations
US5696816 *Aug 29, 1996Dec 9, 1997Siemens Stromberg-CarlsonMethod for changing a subscriber's local service provider
EP0219771A2 *Oct 8, 1986Apr 29, 1987Siemens AktiengesellschaftMethod for influencing dial number evaluation and translation processes in a programme-controlled telecommunication switching system
EP0557643A2 *Oct 23, 1992Sep 1, 1993AT&T Corp.Mnemonic and synonymic addressing in a telecommunications system
EP0631418A1 *Jun 23, 1994Dec 28, 1994Microsoft CorporationSystem and method for processing telephone numbers
WO1995023486A1 *Feb 1, 1995Aug 31, 1995Gte Mobile Communications Service CorporationCellular radiotelephone with dialed number analysis
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6016342 *Jun 18, 1997Jan 18, 2000At&T Corp.Telecommunications apparatus for initiating calls based on past calling patterns
US6134319 *Jun 27, 1997Oct 17, 2000At&T Corp.Apparatus and method for dialing out of local area telephone calls
US6154535 *May 15, 1998Nov 28, 2000Bellsouth CorporationMethods and system for obtaining processing information relating to a communication
US6249571 *Oct 30, 1998Jun 19, 2001North Coast Logic, Inc.Telemanagement system with modular features and database synchronization
US6292557 *Aug 31, 1998Sep 18, 2001Lucent Technologies Inc.Apparatus and method to insert the default local area code into a dialed telephone number
US6324272 *Oct 29, 1999Nov 27, 2001Lucent Technologies Inc.Telecommunication calling party number determination and manipulation
US6345095Apr 14, 1999Feb 5, 2002Robert J. YamartinoTelephone number area code preprocessor
US6477247Aug 3, 2000Nov 5, 2002At&T Corp.Apparatus and method for dialing out of local area telephone calls
US6498839Jan 12, 2001Dec 24, 2002Nec America, Inc.Telemanagement system with modular features and database synchronization
US6643369 *Oct 14, 1999Nov 4, 2003Dimarco Anthony F.Custom telephone
US6850605Nov 28, 2001Feb 1, 2005Ameritech CorporationMethod of billing in an abbreviated dialing service
US6898279 *Nov 30, 1998May 24, 20053Com CorporationMethods and computer readable media for creating dialing strings useful in an international dial-up session for transferring data
US6947544Mar 5, 2002Sep 20, 2005Yamartino Robert JTelephone number area code preprocessor
US6987839 *Jun 29, 2000Jan 17, 2006Cisco Technology, Inc.Arrangement for converting telephone number formats for notification systems
US7095832Sep 8, 2004Aug 22, 2006Ameritech CorporationMethod of billing in an abbreviated dialing service
US7113585 *Mar 15, 2000Sep 26, 2006Breckenridge John LMethod and apparatus for an intelligent telephone prefix dialer
US7142644Mar 16, 2005Nov 28, 2006Cisco Technology, Inc.Arrangement for converting telephone number formats for notification systems
US7231431Apr 4, 2005Jun 12, 2007Starhome GmbhSystem and methods for global access to services for mobile telephone subscribers
US7403603May 19, 2006Jul 22, 2008At&T Services, Inc.Method of billing in an abbreviated dialing service
US7697678 *Apr 13, 2010Yablon Gilbert JUnified method and apparatus to simplify telephone area code dialing
US7940918May 10, 2011Yablon Gilbert JUnified method and apparatus to simplify telephone area code dialing
US7957514 *Dec 18, 2000Jun 7, 2011Paltalk Holdings, Inc.System, method and computer program product for conveying presence information via voice mail
US8249246Aug 21, 2012Yablon Gilbert JMethod and apparatus for changing a telephone number after entry
US8374168Mar 12, 2007Feb 12, 2013Rebtel Networks AbTelephone communication
US8385537Feb 26, 2013Gilbert J. YablonUnified method and apparatus to simplify telephone area code dialing
US8671145Aug 17, 2005Mar 11, 2014Paltalk Holdings, Inc.Method and computer program product for establishing real-time communications between networked computers
US8744066Aug 17, 2012Jun 3, 2014Gilbert J. YablonMethod and apparatus for changing a telephone number after entry
US8767949Feb 21, 2013Jul 1, 2014Gilbert J. YablonUnified method and apparatus to simplify telephone area code dialing
US8824643Jun 7, 2011Sep 2, 2014Paltalk Holdings, Inc.System, method and computer program product for conveying presence information via voice mail
US9137343Jun 23, 2014Sep 15, 2015Gilbert J. YablonUnified method and apparatus to simplify telephone area code dialing
US9191506May 28, 2014Nov 17, 2015Gilbert J. YablonMethod and apparatus for changing a telephone number after entry
US20020076010 *Dec 18, 2000Jun 20, 2002Shankar SahaiSystem, method and computer program product for conveying presence information via voice mail
US20020131578 *Mar 5, 2002Sep 19, 2002Yamartino Robert J.Telephone number area code preprocessor
US20050078813 *Sep 8, 2004Apr 14, 2005Ameritech Corporation Of HoffmannMethod of billing in an abbreviated dialing service
US20050157857 *Mar 16, 2005Jul 21, 2005Lockwood Robert J.Arrangement for converting telephone number formats for notification systems
US20060002542 *Jun 30, 2005Jan 5, 2006Yamartino Robert JTelephone number area code processor
US20060010201 *Aug 17, 2005Jan 12, 2006Roskowski Steven GMethod and computer program product for establishing real-time communications between networked computers
US20060030304 *Apr 4, 2005Feb 9, 2006Starhome GmbhSystem and methods for global access to services for mobile telephone subscribers
US20060098799 *Jan 28, 2004May 11, 2006Gilbert YablonUnified Method and Apparatus to Simplify Telephone Area Code Dialing
US20060172777 *Jan 23, 2006Aug 3, 2006Klein Mark DDomain-driven abbreviated dialing
US20060203983 *May 19, 2006Sep 14, 2006Ameritech CorporationMethod of billing in an abbreviated dialing service
US20080107254 *Sep 25, 2007May 8, 2008Yamartino Robert JTelephone number area code processor
US20090310598 *Mar 12, 2007Dec 17, 2009Hjalmar WinbladhTelephone communication
US20110208819 *Aug 25, 2011Roskowski Steven GMethod And Computer Program Product For Establishing Real-Time Communications Between Networked Computers
EP1239650A1 *Mar 9, 2001Sep 11, 2002Inventec Appliances Corp.Phone book intelligent dialing method
Classifications
U.S. Classification379/121.01, 379/114.12, 379/355.08
International ClassificationH04Q3/00, H04M1/2745, H04M3/44
Cooperative ClassificationH04Q2213/13097, H04Q2213/13343, H04Q2213/13345, H04Q3/0029, H04Q2213/13542, H04Q2213/1307, H04M3/44, H04Q2213/13056, H04Q2213/13103, H04M1/274566
European ClassificationH04Q3/00D3, H04M3/44, H04M1/2745P
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jul 31, 1997ASAssignment
Owner name: AT&T CORP., NEW YORK
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BRENDZEL, HENRY TZVI;WEBER, ROY PHILIP;REEL/FRAME:008625/0594;SIGNING DATES FROM 19970425 TO 19970520
Jun 20, 2002FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
Jun 22, 2006FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 8
Jun 22, 2010FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 12